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Linux Mint – Blocking access to specific websites

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If you plan on allowing others to use your Linux Mint machine, the Domain Blocker application may be of use to you. Also known as the Mint Nanny, Domain Blocker allows you to prevent specific websites from loading. Domain Blocker is extremely easy to use, allowing just the basic functionality of adding a domain to block and removing a blocked domain. To add a new domain, click on the Add button and type in the URL. To undo the block, click on the domain name you wish to unblock and then click on Remove. The following screenshot shows the Mint Nanny application, with one domain blocked:

While Mint Nanny can certainly be useful in blocking domains you do not want to visit on your computer, it also has some fairly sizeable weaknesses. First, anyone with the sudo access to your machine will easily be able to undo the domains that you block. In addition, aliases for a domain may not be blocked. For example, if you block www.yahoo.com, the www.ymail.com domain will still work, thus working around the block. For those of you who need a simple tool to block a domain quickly, Mint Nanny may be considered as an appropriate tool.

One of the better solutions for domain blocking is not a Linux solution at all. OpenDNS is one such service worth taking a look at. OpenDNS is installed into your router by removing the DNS servers that your ISP provides you with and installing the OpenDNS servers instead. Therefore, someone with the sudo access to your computer would not be able to log in to your OpenDNS account and disable the service. For a walk-through of installing OpenDNS that is specific to your router, have a look at the OpenDNS website for specific instructions.

Note

When you block a domain with Mint Nanny, it’s simply adding an entry to your /etc/hosts file. To see this for yourself, consider blocking a domain while checking the contents of the /etc/hosts file before and after adding the block, to see the difference. If you wish, you can actually add the block to the /etc/hosts file yourself without using Mint Nanny, though Mint Nanny may be preferred, as it’s not advised to edit your /etc/hosts file unless you have specific reason to do so.

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